The peak body representing special religious education (SRE) in New South Wales is urging school administrators to comply fully with policies surrounding new enrolment procedures, to ensure parents can choose what they want for their child next year and beyond.
New education department enrolment forms for 2020 require principals to ensure each parent is supplied with an SRE enrolment form and preference form at the same time. Each school administrator is then required to actively seek the return of both forms to ensure that each child’s needs are met.
Christian SRE spokesperson Murray Norman said they have evidence that some schools are ignoring the policy, potentially robbing parents of this important choice.
“If a parent doesn’t want religious education for their child that’s their choice. However, if they didn't even have the opportunity to choose because they weren’t provided with a form, the school has denied them that right by stealth.
“We are calling on all schools to make sure the correct forms are provided to each parent, not left on a counter or stuffed in a child’s school bag. Furthermore, schools need to be proactive in chasing up forms not returned.”
He said SRE providers and volunteers have been asked to check on each school where SRE is available and make sure the processes are being followed.
"If they are not, we want to hear about it and so do the more than 100,000 direct supporters and thousands of parents across NSW."
In two recent media polls, Australians clearly demonstrated that the majority of parents want religious education in state schools, while independent research has found that almost 80 per cent believe that schools should be a safe place for students to explore deeper questions of faith and belief.
“The evidence is there that parents want to be able to choose religion for their child.”
Christian SRE is working with the Department of Education to develop an electronic enrolment process, which will streamline the role that parents play in choosing the education that is right for their child.